So, the primary mission question of our time is, can we live among the people of our neighborhoods? Can we “pitch our tent” in the pluralistic village as a neighbor and learner without coming with all the answers in our pocket? Can we open ourselves to the possibility of learning as much from our neighbors as they will learn from us? It’s high time we have our imaginations shaped by a story of God’s encounter with all humanity.
The following post comes from a response I had from listening to a podcast on "Homebrewed Christianity " with Trip and Kevin Corcoran, author of " Church in the Present Tense: a candid look at what's emerging."
I really enjoyed Kevin’s thoughts on the ” emerging ” conversation. But, I am still frustrated by self professing emergents on pluralism and engagement with other faiths. I mean in the opening musings of the interview Kevin basically blows any perceived boundaries in all directions talking about the reality of God. Humanity, or any faith for that matter has no proven road map to God…at best we humbly point our finger in a direction…and hope. None of us ” really know ” God…we just think we know. And in case you’re wondering, yes…I call myself a "christian", well sort of. I’m following Jesus, because he has captured my imagination.
I’d like to ask Kevin and Trip how on the one hand you can talk about God in terms of infinite mystery, where are best attempts of knowing are like trying to skip stones across the vast ocean of a universe…but none ever come close to making it. But, then talk about the exclusivity of ” christianity ” or any other faith for that matter. In the most fragile fragment of any reality of a creator, and a creation, there can be only inclusiveness.
Such tensions are likely to increase as the world becomes more interconnected and cultures, peoples and religions become ever more entwined. We are see this reality in ” Occupy Wall Street or what ever city ” where people of different race, religion and culture are coming together like active ingredients in a test tube. The continued and increasing reactions will always create a new reality. But as is usually the case institutional religion has pulled the curtains in its shop windows blinding itself to the reality of honest truth. The pressure this creates tests more than our tolerance — it demands that we promote peaceful coexistence and understanding creating permeable boundaries where God and truth pass freely in all directions.
Granted, every religion has a sense of exclusivity as part of its core identity…only because it looks out the window of it’s own perception. Even so, I believe there is genuine potential for mutual understanding. While preserving faith toward one’s own tradition, one can respect, admire and embrace the wisdom and truth from other traditions.
Thomas Merton said he could be perfectly faithful to Christianity, yet learn in depth from other religions like Buddhism. Francis of Assis said much the same visiting Muslim leaders during the crusades. To often our fear percolates more out of what we don’t understand than what we actually know.
Finding common ground among faiths, where all faith emerges into an open table of humility, compassion and grace…to a “known ” reality of one humanity, one creation and one creator… can help us bridge needless paths that divide at a time when unified action is more crucial than ever. As creation, we must embrace the oneness of a unified and all inclusive humanity as we face global issues like famine, poverty, economic crises and ecological disaster. At that scale, our response must be act and live faithfully as one.
From this perspective, mutual understanding among all faith communities is not merely the business of religious franchises— it matters for the welfare of humanity as a whole. Faith, all faith must ” emerge ” to a reality where all become sewn, into a divine sacred tapestry where it represents all humanity, all creation. To do this will require a great act of faith by all of us…or in the end we each hold our tattered fragment of our ” tradition “, while all around us there is nothing.
My dream is to imagine that all ” faiths ” even where a persons faith might come down to nothing more than a great imagination of hope. That we would weave stories, where we would find common threads of compassion, humility and hospitality. That we would weave invisible nets that we could cast over all humanity…that would pull us all together, draw us closer together…where we really come to know the reality of ” One.”